Feds will start putting some migrant families in hotels

The federal government will start placing some migrant families in hotels, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed Saturday.

ICE acting Director Tae D. Johnson said in a statement to The Hill that the agency signed a short-term $86.9 million contract with Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors to “provide temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States.”

Johnson said the contract provides 1,239 beds and other necessary services. Families will also receive a “comprehensive health assessment that includes COVID-19 testing.”

“Our border is not open,” Johnson said. “The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority.”

News of the site was first reported by Axios on Saturday. The news outlet reported that the hotels will be near border areas, including Arizona and Texas.

Two people familiar with the plans told Reuters that families will arrive at the sites, called “family reception sites,” to continue immigration paperwork, and could leave as early as six hours after they arrive if their paperwork is completed and they have arranged for transportation.

The sites are set to open in April, and will offer COVID-19 testing, medical care, food services, social workers and case mangers to help with travel and onward destinations, according to the news service. Staff will be trained to work with children.

Endeavors, working with other nonprofits, will initially provide up to 1,400 beds in seven different brand-name hotels, Reuters noted.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Endeavors for comment. 

The move signals President Biden’s shift away from detaining migrants in private prisons. 

Biden in late January signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to not renew its contracts with private criminal detention centers. The order was limited to the DOJ, meaning that DHS and ICE could continue using the centers

The Biden administration has been dealing with an influx of migrants at the southern border. Axios noted that the the number of migrant families caught at the border rose from 7,000 to nearly 19,000 between January and February.

Updated at 8:31 p.m. 

Tags Arizona Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Joe Biden

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